Religion is a set of beliefs and practices with reference to a supernatural power that controls human beings; it gives meaning and purpose to the practitioner. It is expressed through ritual, prayer or meditation. Religion includes cultural traditions, history and personal faith. It defines your opinion about the world and your existence; there are several classifications of religion but each one has characteristics that are distinct from another, a number of well known religions in the world include: Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and Judaism.
Islamic religion involves worship of Allah as the only God and belief in Muhammad as their prophet. Muslims use the Quran as their holy book and they follow strict customs and religious beliefs, for instance, the manner of dressing, sanitation, morals, and rituals. Christianity involves believing in one God and his son Jesus Christ; they use the Bible as their holy book. Judaism involves practice of laws and values of the Hebrew Bible; they don’t believe that Jesus is the son of God. While Hinduism believes that their goal is to attain Moksha from the cycle of regeneration.
They have many traditions and practices. There is need for religion because it changes not only the way we live in the world but also the way others live. It also reflects the meaning of life and transforms life. When we understand the true meaning of religion, we will realize that it is all about healing peoples’ hearts, speaking for and being with the helpless, the forgotten, the poor, and the voiceless in society and in the church. We also ought to have religion in order to play our right roles in life. It further helps people improve their lives.
For instance, instead of spending more time and money on instruments of destruction and how to eliminate crime, people are taught the basic principles of life, thus encouraging a harmonious living. For example, prisoners or those people who commit crimes normally get transformed completely when they embrace a religion like Christianity. Religion is also about transforming ourselves towards the positive so that we can change the world. Religion explains mysteries that cannot be explained, misfortunes such as illness, death, etc. For instance, it enables one to seek solutions from a higher authority when no one can fathom mysteries.
Although it may give true or false answers, it gives one a sense of comfort and strength to keep on going and to fight challenges and hardship in life. Furthermore, religion helps us to appreciate life and to practice good moral values in the society as it instills the fear of a super natural authority. There is need for religion as science is incomplete without religion; science has brought to all mankind a planet of instability and panic. Its advanced scientific civilization has brought great calamities such as wars, atomic bombs and therefore with religion, science can be used in the right way.
Scientific advances and fulfillment of physical needs do not fill certain emptiness in ones life. This brings us to the realization of a need for God. Nothing can satisfy certain spiritual needs of mankind except a supernatural being, and that calls for religion (David, 1957, p. 26). Man is made up of body, soul and spirit. The body is satisfied with good food and clothing, the soul is neither satisfied with good food nor clothing. The soul will always be discontented if it lacks spiritual peace. Religion involves having Faith in something. When one has it, he or she gets an immense source of strength, unity and connection.
Without faith, people strive for their own joy and define morality on their own terms. On the other hand, religion may not be relevant when it comes to a lot of issues. Some people believe that some religions are with God and others are without, yet they cannot easily differentiate between them. Some religions are based on ancestral practices while others on scientific and modern values. Other religious individuals believe that their religion is superior to others thus causing hateful feelings and intimidation between different religious groups as some feel more perfectly justified than others and consider others as evil.
This has lead to wars such as the Palestinian and Israeli wars which occur constantly. Another factor which has contributed to failure in religion is that some people have retreated into technology and physical comfort because they hold different views concerning religion. For example, people don’t easily marry people from different religious groups because of differences in faith which normally cause heartbreaks and do more harm than good; people should marry based on love and not religion.
Religion becomes irrelevant when we don’t understand what we really believe in, making us either to worship or practice rituals because it is a routine or because we don’t have a choice. This may consequently render people prisoners of a certain way of life, which may bring a lot of emptiness in life, lack of joy and misunderstanding. A different group of people don’t see the need for religion especially after living comfortably lives without any suffering or grief.
For some religions, their teachings and practices disallow people to inquire on some important issues on culture, science, medicine, philosophy or politics. They will draw their arguments based on some doctrinal values. Some go to an extent of denying themselves certain important nutritious foods, or medicine, while some are not allowed to embrace technology as it is regarded as evil. Some religions encourage crime and war, for example, killing in certain religions is right if you are fighting for your rights or religion.
This causes loss of life, terror and instability. In such cases, religion ceases to be relevant. Humanity needs to grow in all aspects of life either mentally, physically, socially or spiritually, to be completely rounded individuals. Therefore, there is need for religion to satisfy the spiritual part. At the same time, religion should be embraced in such a way that it does not cause dissatisfaction or interfere with the rights or the peace of another person.
David, H. (1957). Natural history of religion. United Kingdom: Stanford University Press.